Hannes van den Berg
CEO of Momentum Consult

Which events in 2017 had the biggest impact on the industry?

Within Momentum Consult, a couple of things are playing out in our favour: the Retail Distribution Review (RDR) is due to be implemented in 2018, and obviously, financial advisers need to decide on their futures. We are the beneficiaries of financial advisers, who have joined our business and value proposition.

Equally, from an investment perspective, the returns that have been generated via the market make it tough for financial advisers to manage client expectations. And all this while matching their needs in terms of financial outcomes or return outcomes yielded by the investments in the past year.

What were the positive changes in the industry?

Overall, globally and in South Africa, there has been a much bigger focus on the end client and client centricity that we – as Momentum Consult – hold dear to our hearts. We focus on addressing client needs. I think technology has driven a lot of that expectation and, as an industry and as financial services advisers, we need to adjust and make sure we really focus on the client.

What plans and ideas have been realised by Momentum Consult in 2017?

As a young business, we have many plans; we are a growing business despite being in a challenging industry. We have realised our growth plans for the year, so we’re going to enter the new year with 180 advisers within the company. Given the target market that we focus on, the high net-worth and affluent market, assets under advice have increased in the last four years tenfold to R20 billion ($1.5 billion). So, in assessing the impact we have had on clients, as well as how the business has grown, I think we have had a great 2017.

OUR PURPOSE IS TO ENHANCE THE FINANCIAL WELLNESS OF
OUR CLIENTS AND OUR BUSINESSES.

Your key highlights for 2017?

As a new entrant into the market (since 2014), we have really come of age in 2017 as Momentum Consult. We have formed a unique culture within the business and have established our brand. I believe that Momentum Consult is one of the players in the South African financial planning and advice industry to be reckoned with.

Which sectors will Momentum Consult focus on this year?

Our purpose is to enhance the financial wellness of our clients and their businesses. We do not have a specific focus on one element of the financial wellness of our client; we want to improve their financial wellness on a holistic basis.

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Despite the large wealth component of our business, we’ve continued to focus on addressing all the financial needs of all clients. We have a compelling offering when it comes to estate planning, life planning and other elements that include life cover and savings for the future, wealth creation and protecting a client’s assets, either via commercial short-term or personal short-term insurance.

What hurdles lie ahead this year?

From a macroeconomic perspective, the world is currently in a strange place. In the US, they’re dealing with all the political issues and the growth is pleasing to see. Brexit is still a reality that needs to play out in 2018. While zooming in closer to South Africa, we’re looking forward to the results of the ANC National Conference in December. It will potentially have a big impact on 2018 and will put South Africa in a certain mindset.

From a local perspective, the stock exchange has really rallied the last two months on the back of a weaker rand. South Africa will need to deal with the reality of a large budget deficit and downgrade.

The implementation of RDR is real in 2018: there’s intent from the Financial Services Board (FSB) to ensure that in 2018/19 Twin Peaks is implemented. In our sector, specifically, we need to adopt and address this to achieve the targeted outcomes for our clients.

What’s the outlook for African markets this year?

Africa sits in the emerging market sector and, from an investment perspective, the world is looking differently at Africa these days. I travelled to Botswana, Zimbabwe and Namibia in October and could see significant investments playing out; obviously the Chinese have a hand in these.

The events that occurred in Zimbabwe, the process of those events and the way in which
the population – and the army – engaged with former president Robert Mugabe, plus the results that stem from all of the above, are most pleasing. Africa is a difficult place in which to do business but, in the long run, it is going to be an emerging-market jewel for investors.